Monday, September 29, 2014

My Heart Has Grown 7 Sizes!!!

True blue thru and thru!!!
Dear Family & Friends,
Ok there is absolutely no way that it is almost October. How did the time fly by so fast?! This is our 6th P-day. So we've almost been here at the MTC for a full transfer. Shenme Dongxi?! This has been the craziest ride of my entire life but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Tan JM asked me today if I thought we had changed very much on our missions. Oh heavens yes! I definitely feel like if my mission were to end right now, I would be such a different person. My choices, my thoughts, and the way I live my life would all be so different. And I've only been out here for 6 weeks. The mission is a crazy ride.

Getting to see our cute friends the Veenkers:)
So this week was amazing. I feel like my hearts grown 7 sizes. Elder Ballard spoke to us on Tuesday and it was amazing. We've been so spoiled! We had 2 apostles in a row! I truly feel so blessed. But the best part about Elder Ballard's talk was that he started it by saying, "Now I'm going to talk to you just how I would talk to my grandkids." I really felt like I was adopted in the Ballard family and it was the best feeling in the world. Being here in the MTC can get lonely sometimes, but it was a sweet reminder to me that my family loves me and are praying for me.

Speaking of which! I would just like to have a small interlude of gratitude right now because I have had very strong feelings this week about my family. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the prayers that have been said in my behalf. I know that I could not do this without the help of my Heavenly Father and it gives me such great peace to know that I am not the only one petitioning for help. Thank you thank you thank you. I have literally felt the prayers of my friends and family pushing me forward. It has been an amazing blessing. So thank you!

This week I had an incredible experience with the Atonement. I had been having a really rough couple of days towards the beginning of this week. I had all of these negative thoughts and feelings. I just was sulking and it was terrible. I felt heavy and incapable and just gross. On Thursday, I think, I decided I was done. I didn't want these feelings anymore. I wanted them to be gone. I was so exhausted and worn down. So I prayed for a really long time that night. I told my Heavenly Father that I didn't want these feelings. I wanted to feel like myself again. I needed Him to take this away. But it didn't happen. The next morning I woke up and I still had this pain. It was very frustrating. So I prayed again. Afterwards, I wrote out my feelings. I wrote a (fake) letter to my mom and expressed my frustrations and negative thoughts and all of my pain. I knew that I couldn't do this. So I told Heavenly Father the things that I would give up in order to have these feelings taken away. (I felt a lot like Russel in UP when he throws his Wilderness Explorer badges on the ground and says "Here. I don't want this anymore.")  It was amazing the peace I felt after that. It was like Heavenly Father gave me a shield for the rest of the day. I was able to love others so much more fully and I was able to see people the way my Heavenly Father sees them. Giving up my pride has changed my mission. I'm so thankful for the protection of the Lord. I know that He has been helping me to combat Satan so much more these past few days. 

It's weird to think that I'm a missionary now. Because I'm still Maddie Mad-dog Giles. Putting on a badge didn't give me super powers. It didn't help me memorize all of the scriptures. It didn't make me fluent in Chinese. The only thing that it gave me that I didn't have before was the Savior's name. I have His name written on my heart (literally) every single day. The world will know that I am his representative because of this little black piece of plastic. But that doesn't change what's inside of me. I change what's inside of me. It's what I do that makes me a missionary. He loves us and wants us to do our best. So he helps us... but we must act. We must move. We must not relent. 

So I just love the TRC. So much. It's the best ever. The young man we taught this week was the same one we taught last week! Which is a miracle because it's completely randomized. So we walked in and he remembered us which was super cool. We asked him how he was and he told us he was tired and hungry. By some miracle, I had brought fruit snacks with me to the TRC. I NEVER DO THAT. So I gave him some and he was so delighted! haha. As we started our conversation we were talking about God's love and we asked him what he thought about God's love. He said he wasn't completely sure. So I told him that I knew God loved him because God gave him those fruit snacks. I told him that I've never brought them to class or anything before, but this morning I brought them. He laughed, but it was such a sweet and simple testimony to me that God really does love us. He's in the details of our lives :) 

Once again I love you all. Thank you for the love and support that I have felt. Nothing is better than receiving a letter or a package from my friends and family. I feel so much love here. I know that I am not alone and that is the biggest blessing. thank you once again for all of the support and prayers. 
I love the packages and letters:)
Funny things of this week:

So the word Feichang=very and xingfen=excited. So we often say that we are feichang xingfen when we teach. Tan JM was looking in the Dictionary the other day for the word crazy and guess what she found listed under the word crazed? feichang xingfen. So basically we've been telling our investigators that we're crazed to teach them. Golden. hahaha :) 

Also My laundry bag got stolen. It's the worst! haha So We went back to pick up our laundry and we had nothing to carry all of my stuff in. So I took off my skirt, put on some pants, and stuffed all of my clothing into this flowy skirt I had and carried it like a small child. So there I was wearing my pirate shirt (flowy) not tucked in, pants, my nice shoes, and holding a black mysterious body-looking bag. I'm the sketchiest.... hahaha :) 

Alright well thank you again. I love you all! :)

Gu Jiemei
Getting to see Elder Miner from my home ward:)
My sewing skills have come in handy. One of the Elders ripped his pants:)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Going to the Temple is Like Coming Home

My awesome roomies!!!
There were so many cool things this week :) We had the best TRC experience ever. We taught 2 returned missionaries and we really felt inspired about what to talk with them about. We planned to speak on prayer (I think) at the beginning, but in our first lesson we ended up speaking about hope and in the second one we ended up discussing the Priesthood and how it's the power of God. Shenme?! God is real! He has a plan and He knows His children.

We also tried a new tactic with our investigators this week. Both of them kind of hit a wall and we didn't feel like they were progressing very fast. So we decided to try and ask them if they had any service that we could do for them. It was fun to watch the smiles on their faces as we tried, in broken chinese, to tell them that we wanted to vacumn their homes. It's the thought that counts right? They were much more open after that.

I Love to See The Temple
I also had the opportunity to lead our discussion on Sunday, which is kind of like Sunday school. The theme was temples and so I thought it would be cool to just go around the room and have everyone share something that they loved about the temple or an experience they've had or a scripture they like. The youth of this church are amazing! The coolest thing was recognizing just how different everyone's experiences were, and yet we all testified of our love of the temple. God knows us! 

I love learning Chinese!!!
We also got to watch the Ogden Temple Dedication. How cool was that? I loved what Elder Bednar said about us coming home. That's exactly how I feel about the temple too! We got to go to the temple today and it was just wonderful. The Spirit is so strong. 

Also we have the best musical numbers ever here at the MTC. Seriously. AMAZING!

We also had the opportunity to host this week! Which was super awesome :) I love meeting new missionaries. It's also weird to think that I'm finally in the oldest Mandarin speaking District. It's weird having everyone gone, but I really feel like I'm getting a handle on this stuff. I love how much learning happens here. I always loved school, but this is so much better because it's a school that teaches you how to be a better follower of Jesus Christ and teach others. 

This last Tuesday Elder Scott spoke in our devotional ! I think he gave the same talk that he gave you guys about prayer. It was nice to feel close to you all in that way :) It was amazing to have an apostle here. They are so powerful!! Also, rumor has it that another apostle is coming this week! We'll see :) Also, there was potentially going to be an MTC choir for general conference, but we found out yesterday that only the Elders will be singing and it will be in Priesthood session. So look for my District!
Elders in my district

Getting our blood taken
Every week is hard. But what changes it is the angle you look at it from. What has helped me is looking for the positive things, even when things are hard and frustrating. I'm doing great. 

I love you all. Thank you for all of the love and support. It's been amazing. My District kind of hates me for it because I always have mail... but I am so grateful! It's wonderful to hear from people. Even if it's just a few kind words. So thank you everyone!!   I love you. I have a testimony of all of our divine nature. We are children of the most powerful being in the Universe. Who better to rely on? Definitely no one. He loves us so much. 

Clicking our Heals:)
Also! I met a few missionaries coming to Pleasant Grove. Their names are Sister Inman, Elder Brennan and Elder Isaac. IF you see them, they're great.

I can't believe it's been a month. ONE MONTH. I only have 17 more. That's such a deceivingly short amount of time. Our devotional speaker this Sunday was the former MTC President. He talked a lot about having no regrets. I realized that I really need to be working harder here. It was very humbling,  but also very motivating. I know I can do this. If I rely on my Savior He will carry me through. 

Thank you again!

All my love 

Gu Jiemei

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Miracle of the SD Card

Pres. & Sister Teng with Tan Jiemei & Gu Jiemei
Dear Family & Friends,
Wow! This week will make 1 month of service! SHENME DONGXI?! This is crazy! It feels so long and so short at the same time. 

Let's talk about the miracle of the SD card for a second.

Mom Note: Maddie hasn't been able to download pictures at the MTC, so she sent her SD card with all her pictures from the past month home to us. She just forgot a few things:)

The envelope with my SD card in it:)
OH MY HEAVENS. So I stupidly thought it would be cute to put my family's name on that padded envelope in Chinese. AND I assumed that because I had the address correctly inscribed that I did not need to put a return address. And I assumed that one stamp would be enough. I realized all of this was really dumb a bit too late. The day after I sent that envelope, I couldn't sleep. I realized all of my mistakes and I was FREAKING OUT. I had stress dreams about it. I had one that was super terrible. and then I woke up. Prayed SOOOO HARD and after I went to bed I had a dream that everything worked out. I didn't know what that meant.So I prayed really hard that whoever found my envelope would be willing and able to get it to my family. I prayed so hard. I had my roommates all pray about it. It was a serious issue. haha Then, just today I realized that I had no control over the situation. I would have to just accept whatever happened. I had used my faith and now I had to leave it up to the will of the Lord. So when I read that you had received the SD card I literally jumped and ran around inside the computer lab. Then I collapsed into a happy puddle on the ground. Do you have any information on the woman who payed the postage for it? I need to send her a thank you note. It was a miracle :) Such a tender mercy from the lord.

Mom Note cont.   Our mail carrier actually paid the extra postage for the envelope and left us a note. We are all so grateful for her!!!

Well this week was crazy. It was incredibly difficult but I learned A TON. I didn't think I had learned that much until I started writing it down. Where do I begin?? haha

I've been reading the Book of Mormon and I am almost done. I'll probably finish it this next week. I've really learned so much about the Book of Mormon since being here and it is wonderful to be able to see my testimony grow so much. I love Jesus Christ. I have just felt so overwhelmed with that feeling since I've been finishing up the Book of Mormon. 

I learned that I am improving in my teaching! In previous weeks, Tan JM would have to look at me and say "what do you think about that" during lessons so that I would have a chance to speak. But now we're getting much better at picking up on each other's cues and in our past lessons she hasn't had to do that once! PROGRESS!

So we had a very discouraging lesson this week with one of our investigators. We felt like he was really progressing! We had had a really fun lesson with him earlier in the week. But in our last lesson of the week we asked him who God was and he said he didn't know. We were both pretty shattered. But we realized the importance of evaluating what we teach as well as what our investigator understands. 

I also learned that I need to not worry about looking stupid. I'm going to look stupid no matter what. I just need to accept that. haha But sometimes I get so caught up in what I look like to the investigator, that I don't think about how the investigator should look to me. Like a child of God who needs my help. I need to focus on feeling Christlike love for them. 

My district!!!
Sometimes my competitive nature comes out in the MTC. haha  So apparently 4 square is a super fun sport! I had no idea until we got here :) haha and I'm actually pretty good at it! There's an elder in our Zone who is the obnoxious king of 4 square and he leaves on Wednesday. I'm determined to get him out at least once before he leaves. He's going to Taipei though so even if I don't get to beat him here in the MTC we will see each other again :) Also we have frisbee fridays with our zone. I have a nemesis there also. For whatever reason, Bai Zhanglao and I are always standing next to each other and he intercepts every throw I get. I hate it. I will defeat him. 

Sounds like everyone is doing great :) I miss you all and love you so much. I have an amazing family. What I would do without you I'll never know. The MTC is a weird place. I feel like I've been stripped of everything I know and I'm rebuilding myself. My testimony, my character traits, and my language. It's amazing that the Lord trusts us all to do that. He loves us so much. He would do anything for us. And quite literally has done everything for us.

I got a blessing from my Branch President this week and it was the best. President Teng's English is not the best, but because of that he is so incredibly humble. I love him so much. It was exactly what I needed. I haven't been sleeping very well this week, but I think that the blessing will definitely help :) 

TELL STEVE AND SABRINA HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! They're the best in-laws I've ever had :) 

I love you all! Thanks for the packages, cards, letters etc!! You guys are the best!!!

The church is true!! :) 
Gu Jiemei

Mom Note: It was a really hard week for Maddie. If you have a minute to email her I know she would appreciate it:) Her email is

My roommates:)
My favorite soccer team shirt!!! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spiritual Feast

Mom Note: Still waiting for pictures that she promised. Hopefully this week we will get some. This is one of my favorites from before she left:)

Gu Jiemei (Sister Giles)

This week was such a spiritual feast it was unreal. Tan Jiemei and I wish we could just have a few days to go over our notes from yesterday :) haha It was mission conference and the Lindahl's spoke. They are studs. Oh my heck. I'm so impressed by all of the married couples that serve/work here at the MTC. Tan JM and I will often talk about how we just want a love like that :) haha

My district is ridiculous :) haha We are sooo unified and I'm seriously going to be so sad when we leave the MTC and we don't see them every day anymore.We all get along really well. We're like a big family. Funny story: So the Shu Zhonglao brought a bunch of chopsticks for his mission and decided he would issue a challenge to all the Elders to try and eat with chopsticks every day. It has spiraled out of control and they have made their own constitution. The Kuaize articles I think it's called. So now they have to eat with chopsticks every meal and have rice once a day. If anyone loses, they have to wear the most hideous tie I have ever seen. Then after they wear it, they get to make it worse by adding stains and such. So it's kind of escaladed into a horrendous monster :) but it's awesome. 

So another super cool thing that happened is when we were in class this week. We've been watching little clips of people from NY times website or something and people just kind of share their life stories. Then we talk with our companion about how we would teach that person. The clip we watched was about a woman with cancer. It was so real. Don't get me wrong... I love the MTC, but I hate teaching fake investigators. The opportunity for teaching is crucial, but I just have a harder time really feeling close to/developing a relationship with fake investigators (who are our teachers). Anyways, we watched this clip and then we did a grammar exercise with our companions about how we would testify to her. I couldn't even put together two words coherently. I got very emotional. I realized that nothing I can say and nothing I can do could help this woman. I could not even put together a sentence to assuage her pains and fears. At this moment I realized the beauty of a mission. Nothing I will be doing is on my own. I'm not here to fix her. I couldn't if I tried. Jesus Christ is what can fix her. My job is to bring her to him, and then let him do the rest. It was very powerful and a big moment for me.

It was the first fast and testimony meeting we've had here. OH MY GOODNESS! I got to realize just how far my Chinese has come in the past 2 and a half weeks. I could understand almost EVERYTHING! The spirit was incredibly strong as my fellow missionaries got up and bore simple testimonies of their savior and his love for them. Then the departing (Well not really departing. #VISAPROBLEMS they should leave in 2 weeks and then they'll be stateside for a while until they get their visas. Apparently Taiwan has changed their visa laws) districts sang the closing hymn. It was beautiful. I cried and the Spirit was so strong as I realized that one day I really am going to be out there serving a mission :) haha I forget that sometimes here in the MTC. I feel like I'll always be here. 

One other awesome thing is that there is a Mandarin sister's soccer game every Saturday :) It's basically a bunch of squealing and magnet-ball. But I've never had so much fun. I loved it so much! I really got to know a bunch of new girls and we actually had almost 20 people there!! Tan JM even got into it! She says she's not very good at sports... but that's a lie :)

Alright well I'm out of time, but I love you all so much. Thank you for the support and prayers. I have literally felt them lifting me up when the days get hard. The Church is true.

Wo zhidao Yesu Jidu shi juezhe. Ta ai women. Ta ai ni! Ni keyi biande geng hao de ren ruguo ni kan moermen jing he qidao.

I love you all. Thank you again.

Gu Jiemei

Monday, September 1, 2014


Sister Giles (Gu Jiemei) & Sister Tate (Tan Jiemei) courtesy of Justin Edwards:)

OH MY HECK. I love the MTC. Seriously it is the greatest place. I feel like every day changes my life here. It's amazing. This was the first week that I have really felt like I can be myself in Chinese. I have no problem in class. I love speaking in class and I understand really well. But for some reason, when we get to lesson time I freak out and can't understand anything! It's the weirdest. But this week 2 really really awesome things happened. 

1. So we had a big lesson on Comp study this week from one of our teachers. He really stressed the importance of role play during our comp study. I thought it was weird and I wasn't sure how it would work. Then that night when Sister Tate and I were doing our study time, we both got the impression that we need to ditch our scripts for our lessons. What we've been doing up until now with our lessons (We've taught 5 times) is writing out every word we want to say in Chinese. We plan it in English and then translate. But we both felt like we needed to have faith and go by the spirit. In class we practiced giving a 3 minute lesson on the restoration to another member of our class. So we decided we would practice giving a mini-lesson using our restoration pamphlets for our role play. I started out and I had no idea where I was going... I asked questions and I gave facts... and then all of a sudden I felt like I needed to share an experience. This is hard for 2 reasons:
First, I do not have a vast knowledge of Chinese vocabulary yet and this experience required me to use a lot of words I didn't know.
Second, I'm very expressive with my voice... and you can't do that in Chinese because of the tones :) haha
But I digress, so I started to share this experience... and a miracle happened. I was able to be myself in Chinese! Shenme?! It was amazing! I totally felt like Maddie Mad-dog Giles! I was bold and expressive and it felt wonderful. My Chinese wasn't the best, but it will come with time. 

2. Each week we are required to prepare a talk for sacrament meeting. The Branch President will stand up as he's conducting and announce which sister and which elder will be speaking. It's a lot like Hunger Games. So I prepared my talk and it felt so good! I was actually kind of excited to give it, but I didn't end up being called on. When Sister Tate and I were practicing our talks with each other I once again felt just like Maddie Mad-dog Giles. I CAN DO THIS! :) haha One of my signature phrases is "LET'S GO WIN A FOOTBALL GAME!" I'll reverently whisper that to people when we hear an especially good talk or when anything happens that really pumps me up :) haha

Sister Tate is the best. I am 100% sure that The Lord put us together. (Strange fact, she looks nothing like herself in any of the pictures I've taken... I don't know why...) Her first name is Natalie and we were facebook friends before we came on the mission. SOCIAL MEDIA FOR THE WIN! She's super enthusiastic about teaching and she's been doing a lot of work with the missionaries from her home ward in preparation for her mission. I love her. She's also super comfortable speaking Chinese. She took 2 years in high school. So we complete each other in a lot of cool ways. I'm better at reading and knowing tones, and she's better at speaking and vocabulary. It's great. She's a super hard worker and we laugh at ourselves all the time. I really feel like I can be myself with her and it's wonderful. Also, she's exactly mom's height, so when we hug it's like I'm home :)

I think there are 12 chuanjiaoshi (Missionaries) in our district. Most of us are going to Taibei, but we have one companionship who are both going to France but different missions. One to Paris and one to Lyon. we have 2 elders and 1 sister going to Hong Kong and we have 2 elders (I think) going to Canada. We're very diverse :) 
We only have 1 elder who is especially fluent. The rest of us had very little knowledge, or none at all.

Ok so we used to only have one teacher. Her name is He Laoshi (pronounced Huh). She is the most adorable little Chinese woman ever. She's from China and she only speaks Chinese. ONLY. But guess what? My superb charades abilities are coming in mighty handy. It actually makes other people think I know Chinese... which is completely untrue.  She was our only teacher for a while and every now and then we would have subs. She's kind of like our mom. We don't like it as much when other people come in. One elder put it really well when we had another teacher he said "It's kind of like our first day of kindergarten where your mom's walking away and you just are yelling at her, 'Come back and take away this scary man!'" haha that's basically how it is ;) but our other teachers have been amazing too. All returned missionaries and some from Taiwan! It's been cool. 

So yesterday was Sunday and oh my goodness it was amazing. So people always told me that the MTC was spiritual, but you don't really understand what the MTC is like until you're here. It is not the kind of spiritual I'm used to. My roommates and I were all talking the other day about how we feel like our relationship with God is very different now than it used to be. It just feels like the focus is much more about how much God trusts us. It's like the grown up kind of love from our Heavenly Father. Which is very nice, but very different. This gospel is all about growing up. I've realized that a lot throughout my life but being here especially. God expects a lot from us, but he expects it from us over time. LINE UPON LINE. This gospel is true. Yesterday we watched the talk called The Character of Christ from Elder Bednar. If you've never seen it, and you have an hour of free time (A term that I'm not sure exists anymore) I highly recommend it. I will never get the image of Elder Bednar imitating cookie monster out of my head. It was the best. But something that I learned a lot yesterday was the importance of being bold on the mission. Like I mentioned, during our lessons I wasn't exactly bold. In fact I was probably shy. Shenme?! (What?!) I know... it's weird. But All during yesterday I was taught over and over again by the spirit that I need to be bold. Then Heavenly Father blessed me with Elder Bednar's talk. HE WAS SOOO bold. IT was crazy and I'll never forget it. 

I will be bold!

I love you all so much. Thanks so much for your prayers and love. I have felt your prayers pushing me in moments where I feel I can't possible study one more word. Thank you for all the emails.  I appreciate them so much. I've felt so much love today it's been amazing. I will try to get back to you all as soon as possible. We don't have much time to email in the MTC:( 

Wo ai nimen!!!

Sister Giles (Gu Jiemei)

Maddie & Sweet Charlotte (McKenzie's former roommate)